June is widely known as Men’s Health Month. It is a time of year that men focus on their physical and mental well-being with the aim of prolonging life with a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, African American males many times suffer from health disparities that put them at a disadvantage when trying to live a disease-free life.
There are approximately 21 million Black men in the U.S. However, it is common knowledge in academic and medical circles that African American men consistently suffer worse health conditions and disparities than any other racial group in the country. Statistics reveal the average life expectancy of Black men in the U.S. is 72 years, the shortest lifespan of all groups by race and gender—except Native American men.
The Center for Health of Minority Males in its “Black Men’s Health Handout” reports 38% of Black men 20 years or older are obese; 23% of Black males 18 years and older smoke cigarettes; 40% of Black men 20 years old and older have hypertension; 40% of Black men die prematurely from heart disorders as opposed to 21% of white males; and African American males are five times more likely to die from HIV/AIDS than their white counterparts.
There are several reasons for these disparities in ailments, such as systemic racism, a lack of affordable, quality health care, cultural barriers, poverty, and employment that does not offer health insurance.
Roland J. Thorpe of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center for Public Health said some Black men think health repair is more important than health maintenance.
Another reason for Black male reluctance to monitor health is knowledge of the infamous Tuskegee study in which Black men in that city were knowingly withheld treatment for syphilis from 1932 to 1972 to examine its trajectory.
Black men should be urged by their families and friends in fraternal, social, and church groups and at work to monitor their health. This is a solvable problem, with the help of everyone in a Black male’s village.